I thought we could play a little word association game.
I’ll write a word and you say the first word that comes into your mind.
I say Jesus and you say…
There are a lot of words that come into our mind when we hear the name of Jesus. Important, perfect, Son of God, Savior, Redeemer, Friend.
But there’s one word I doubt would come into anybody’s mind, and that’s the word scary.
It’s not really a term we associate with Jesus.
Warm, accepting, loving…not frightening…not Jesus.
That’s a problem.
You may have seen the movie version of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I did. I enjoyed it. But there were some reviews that made a criticism I found interesting.
It’s that Aslan, the lion that represents Jesus Christ…is too tame. He’s simply not awe-inspiring.
I don’t know if they are right about the movie or not, but I do think that pretty accurately sums up one of the problems with the way modern people view Jesus. They just don’t get how frightening he really is.
The people in Jesus’ day did.
That in fact is a response, as we read through the gospels and in particular Mark, that we find coming up over and over again.
“And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this?’
“And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me. ”
“The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid.”
If you can get your minds away from your, maybe, mental picture of Jesus for a minute and think about Jesus as he actually existed, you’ve got to admit that kind of response, it makes some sense.
I mean, just imagine knowing someone like Jesus.
I definitely can’t describe it the way I ought, but just imagine being out in a boat in the middle of a storm and being scared for your life and then having your friend look at the storm and say, be quiet and have it actually stop.
Or maybe you and he are out in center city one night and you have these two insane criminals that you’ve seen on the news, they’ve just been terrorizing the city, and they are running straight at you two, they are screaming and waving their arms, you are looking around wondering what to do, but when they finally get to where you are they fall flat on their faces and cry out to your friend, please, whatever you do, don’t hurt us.
There’s only one logical initial reaction to a person who is as powerful and as important as that; someone who has control over nature, over sickness, over demons; and that is being scared at your mind.
WHO IN THE WORLD IS THIS?
If you can stop imagining, just add some theology to stories like that. It only makes this person Jesus more awe-inspiring.
For starters, He’s God.
If you or I met somebody who claimed to be God, we’d probably think he was crazy. But if we met somebody who actually was God, if we weren’t scared a little bit, we’d be crazy.
But beyond even that, the Bible says our entire eternal destiny hangs upon our relationship with Him.
I don’t know if you are like me, but I get a little nervous before interviews. I know it’s important to make a good impression…that he like me. And that’s just a job.
When it comes to my relationship with Jesus Christ, we’re talking eternity.
The Bible’s really quite clear about that. There’s always as you read through the New Testament this very definite contrast. It’s all very black and white.
‘With Christ, in Christ, peace.
Outside of Christ, condemned.
In Christ, beloved by God.
Outside of Christ, children of wrath.
In Christ, free to do what God wants.
Outside of Christ, enslaved to futile desires.
In Christ, enjoying the blessing of God for all eternity.
Outside of Christ, enduring the punishment of God for time without end.’
When you think about meeting someone that important, someone on whom your whole eternal future rests, you can’t tell me you wouldn’t be a little bit frightened. I say all that, because when you encounter the real Jesus, the Jesus of the gospels it changes the questions you ask.
It’s not, will I accept Jesus?
The real question is will he accept me?
And the answer over and over and over the gospels give, is that, if we come to him in humble, repentant, faith, HE DOES!